After a week of Bible study an astute pastor and his elders observed that they had been by default, living an old covenant life in the new covenant age.
A friend phoned me recently. She spoke in frustrated tones of an encounter with a man who ‘could make nothing of the new covenant and the difference between the new and the old. ‘I just do my best to help others and make a difference’ he exclaimed. Sadly his best is not the gospel of the Kingdom. But it is a Christianised version of the knowledge of good and evil. Too many live in this. After a week of Bible study an astute pastor and his elders observed that they had been by default, living an old covenant life in the new covenant age. A lot do. Some by doctrine and others through passivity. But all of us have a new and living way that is our inheritance and which we need to agree too.
I have been reading Dr Stephen Crosby’s book, The New Testament Prophet. Before embarking on his expose he lays a foundation on which to build. This is the new covenant reality of all that forms the vision of the church in the New Testament Age. It is also the touchstone of that differentiates the church of man from the church Jesus builds. Briefly, the life and ministry or the church does not exist by itself and as a thing in itself. It has nothing to do with keys and formulae. ‘The anointing’ outside our new covenant union with Father is unreliable and sometimes a myth.
Here is the fact of your life as a Believer. Your effectiveness and victory over circumstances and the Enemy is found in the fact that you are son. Not in some anointing or because you have visions. A young pastor pointedly asserted once, ‘Miracles and gifts are not intimacy with Jesus or union with God. It is on the latter that the former gain their authenticity.
Any spirit of wisdom and revelation arises entirely from the Spirit of Sonship which is us, living as sons, in Spirit and truth in our Father. The Spirit of Sonship is Christ multiplied by the Spirit in His disciples. Christ come in our flesh is spirit and truth. This is the essence of new covenant living.
Here are some of the points I jotted down.
1. The new covenant is the context for all life, all endeavor, all ministry in this age. This to say that all we aspire to and do is the outworking of the Christ incarnated by the Spirit in Believers. Christ our life individually, as the church and the new creation is the logos of our social and material kingdom culture in this age. John’s use of the term logos, in harmony with with Paul’s statement in Colossians, refers to the fact that creation holds together and has its meaning and purpose in the person of Jesus Christ. It has physical integrity because it lives in His Spirit.
2. The meaning of the new covenant is known only in the person of Jesus. The meaning of life is known only through the Jesus lens as is the meaning of scripture. The old testament leads to the new. The law leads to Jesus and Jesus and our Father manifest themselves in us by the Spirit. In a manner of speaking the plan is that the new covenant is defined as The Plan leading to the expression of Father in us. These things never operate in reverse. Jesus does not lead to law or old covenant. Hebrews warns against returning to Judaism. Hebrews asserts the supremacy of Jesus over everything that has come before. The plan is that today you are the manifestation of Christ who is your life.
‘Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan’ Eph 1.11 NLT.
4. There is one Plan and two covenants. The new covenant is founded on discontinuity. Life after Christ’s resurrection is not an adaptation to the old and dead way. It is the radically new way of Christ’s life as my life, the life of society, the nations and the earth. This is not the re-modelling of the house. The old is entirely entirely annulled and abolished. Finished. Jesus cried, “IT IS FINISHED!” because it was.
‘By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear’ Heb 8.13 NIV.
The new covenant can be summarized as Christ our life. It is different in essence and quality to what came before. So different that it is a negation of what preceded it. It is not even a mild renewal. The old covenant was temporary by design. In the original the old covenant does not mean eternal. So it is not everlasting. It means for a specific time. The resurrection began the new age - the straitening out of things bent – Sunday morning began the new life of humanity in Christ. All that remains is for humanity to live in He who has given Himself to be our King and our life. This is the Kingdom of Heaven manifest as you, your family and your church.
5. It is erroneous to imagine that we need a touch of law to stiffen up life in the Spirit. The embrace of law does not negate a bit of Christ. It negates all of Him. There can be no improvement on Christ our life. He is the fullness of God in us, the new and living way and the only way. The remedy for license is not law. The remedy is Christ in you; Christ your life and a willingness for Him to increase as we decrease in order to become our real selves as sons and daughters of God.
6. Jesus spoke of ‘your law.’ Today He speaks of ‘your perspective.’ If you find yourself still glued to your perspectives, your old covenant thinking, your law and what you imagine is an identity that legitimizes you in some way; if the elephant in the room is that you have embraced ‘another gospel’ that is not Christ’s gospel – it follpws. It follows that you are positioned where you can only improve. Just say with John and be empowered by Jesus, ‘He must increase. I must decrease.’